Journey House Pregnancy Resource center

Considering A Self-Managed Abortion? Know These Important Facts First

A self-managed abortion is when a woman terminates her pregnancy without any supervision or assistance from a medical professional.  You may have missed a period and taken an at-home pregnancy test (or five!).  You weren’t planning to get pregnant and now you’re wondering what to do.  You may have heard about abortion-on-demand or self-managed abortions and this option seems private, inexpensive, and convenient.  But there are some things you should know before purchasing medication online.  

Are the Plan B pill and the abortion pill the same thing?

The simple answer is “no”.  The “Plan B pill”, or the “morning after pill”, is a form of emergency contraception and can be purchased over the counter.  It is supposed to be taken within the first 72 hours of unprotected sex or contraception failure.  Though the Plan B pill can prevent ovulation, fertilization, and implantation, it cannot guarantee that you won’t get pregnant and it does not protect you from getting a sexually transmitted infection or disease.  The abortion pill, or medical abortion, is a two-step process to terminate a pregnancy.  Medical abortions are performed under medical supervision with medication that has been approved by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration).  The Plan B and abortion pills are very different and while there are possible side effects with both, it’s important to understand the purpose of each and whether there are any risks involved.  For more information about the abortion pill, check out our post: Do I Need the Abortion Pill? What You Need to Know.  

How can I know if I’m really pregnant?

It’s important to point out that a positive pregnancy test does not determine whether a woman has a viable pregnancy, or a pregnancy that has the potential to progress.  In fact, statistics show that 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in miscarriage.  The reasons for miscarriage are largely unknown and they often occur early in the pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even realizes she is pregnant. 

Pregnancy tests purchased at the store, simply detects the presence of the hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone in a woman’s urine.  Pregnancy tests are inexpensive and convenient, but they are not always 100% correct.  Tests can easily show a “false-negative” or a “false-positive”, especially if the test instructions are not followed correctly.  For more information, check out our post: How Soon After Sex Can I Know If I’m Pregnant?

In order for a pregnancy to be viable, it must meet two criteria: the gestational sac and fetus must be implanted in the uterus and there must be the presence of fetal heart tones. First, if implantation has happened outside the uterus, the pregnancy cannot progress.  Ectopic pregnancies happen when the fertilized egg implants in the woman’s fallopian tube.  The abortion pill cannot resolve an ectopic pregnancy.  This serious condition happens in about 1% of all pregnancies and requires immediate medical attention.  

Second, if fetal heart tones are not detected, the body should miscarry naturally, since a pregnancy will not progress without a live and growing fetus.  The abortion pill is not necessary when the criteria for a viable pregnancy are not met.  Women are encouraged to make an appointment with their OBGYN to ensure that the miscarriage is complete and there is no risk for infection. 

Limited OB ultrasounds help to confirm pregnancy.  Under the supervision of a medical professional (OBGYN), an ultrasound will show whether a fetus has implanted inside the uterus and whether fetal heart tones are present.  Measurements taken during an ultrasound also provide vital information about how far the pregnancy has progressed.  The abortion pill has been proved ineffective after 10-11 weeks gestation.

Are Self-Managed Abortions Safe?

Though the perceived benefits of receiving the abortion pill by mail , such as privacy, convenience, and cost, may seem appealing to women facing an unplanned pregnancy, the risks of taking medications purchased online far outweigh the benefits.  The FDA has strong warnings against purchasing medication from outside the US, as these medications have not been tested or regulated, and may be unsafe to take.  This creates an incredible risk for severe ramifications, as women can place their reproductive health and lives at risk. In addition, the side-effects of the abortion pill can mimic those of an ectopic pregnancy, which is a life-threatening condition if left untreated.  Knowing the dates for your last menstrual period does not accurately determine exactly how far your pregnancy has progressed and without an ultrasound, there is no way to determine whether a pregnancy is viable and whether an abortion is necessary.  

Did you know that Pregnancy Resource Centers offer FREE limited OB ultrasounds?  Their services are completely confidential.  They provide a safe space for women to explore their options and make an informed decision.  Pregnancy Centers offer compassionate care, provide practical help and connection to community resources, as well as on-going support.  If you think you might be pregnant and are thinking about purchasing the abortion pill online, take a moment to first contact your local Pregnancy Center.  They will take the time to listen to you, answer your questions, and determine whether your pregnancy is viable.  It’s your decision. We’re here to help you.

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